South African airline Comair’s fleet grounded indefinitely

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South Africa’s civil aviation regulator grounded Comair’s planes indefinitely on Sunday, saying the airline had not adequately addressed safety issues, in a move that also affects passengers of low-cost airline Kulula and British Airways.

A spokesperson for the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) said it had extended a 24-hour precautionary suspension of Comair’s operator certificate indefinitely.

The suspension was meant to end on Sunday, but Comair has not adequately addressed all the necessary safety issues, the SACAA said.

“This morning we communicated to them (Comair) that their air operator certificate is now indefinitely suspended until they close all of the findings,” SACAA spokesperson Phindiwe Gwebu told Reuters, effectively grounding the company’s fleet of Boeing (BA.N) aircraft.

Issuing the precautionary notice on Saturday, the regulator said in the past month Comair had experienced safety problems ranging from “engine failures, engine malfunction and landing gear malfunctions,” among others.

In its investigations, SACAA said it had discovered three so-called “level 1” findings “which pose an immediate risk” and must be addressed immediately.

Gwebu did not elaborate on what outstanding safety issues Comair, which flies local and regional routes from South Africa under the British Airways (BA) livery as part of a licence agreement, needed to address before flying again. Besides flying BA planes, Comair also operates the Kulula brand.

A notice on Kulula’s website showed that Comair was aiming to resume its schedule by 12pm on Sunday, subject to SACAA’s approval.

“We will do everything we can to accommodate customers affected by the suspension on other flights, prioritising vulnerable customers and those who most urgently needed to travel,” Comair said, adding that customers will also be kept informed via text. — Reuters